Albania hope to find path progress as Iordanescu ignores century

Albania are without a goal or point at Euro 2016 despite strong performances so far and must end their scoring drought to beat Romania on Sunday to have any chance of progressing from Group A to the knock-out phase.

Meanwhile Romanian coach Anghel Iordanescu is determined to ignore the landmark occasion of his 100th game as coach or assistant to the national team.

"I think the players have done a lot of good things so far," coach Gianni de Biasi told a news conference Saturday in Lyon.

"Unfortunately we paid dearly for some of the mistakes we have made, as every team can do. And in those circumstances, unfortunately, we conceded goals.

"On the other side, when we had opportunities to score goals, we were not clinical enough or maybe too inexperienced to finish what we built throughout the game."

Albania lost out to Switzerland 1-0 in their opening game and two injury time goals brought a second defeat, 2-0, against France, missing several chances in the process.

Only victory will give them any chance of reaching the last 16 as one of the best third place teams.

Albania scored just 10 goals in eight qualifying games but conceding a meagre five provided a solid foundation to reach France.

"Of course when we don't score we don't win the game. But I think most important is that we haven't been used to conceding goals, that is key to our success," goalkeeper Etrit Berisha said.

The side will likely be boosted by the return of captain Lorik Cana to the centre of defence after he missed the France match through suspension.

"I think Lorik is a very important player for the Albania team. He's got experience, is very committed when he plays for Albania and is an idol for every fan," De Biasi said. "Lorik will be very important again tomorrow."

Romania are in a win-or-bust situation as well though they do have one point to their name from a 1-1 draw with Switzerland. A late goal also cost them dearly against France in a 2-1 defeat.

A victory over Albania would give Romania a chance of finishing second for automatic qualification on goal difference or goals scored if Switzerland lose to France in the other game.

"The players have to know this is the chance of a generation and Romanian football needs this," said veteran coach Iordanescu.

He will celebrate his century match in the team coaching staff on Sunday but stressed it was not an occasion which bothered him.

"To be honest I ignore this number of matches with the national team," he said. "Most important is the match and the objective that we will follow."

The 66-year-old Iordanescu is in his third spell with Romania and the Albania contest will be his 58th in charge of the team. He was voted his country's best coach of the 20th century, highlighted by a run to the European Cup final with Steaua Bucharest in 1989 and the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals.

Despite his experience in the game, he still voiced his annoyance at UEFA for changing his team's schedule the day before the match by bringing the obligatory press conference time forward and moving training away from the stadium to protect the pitch.

"This creates difficulties for us," he said, as his players would have less recovery time and would have to eat late in the day.

And his problems could increase on match-day with the fitness of injured defenders Razvan Rat and Steliano Filip, and midfielder Mihai Pintilii, hanging in the balance.

"The situation is quite delicate about three of our players," he said. "Obviously today during training session they won't take part in the normal session and tomorrow we take final decisions."

Last update: Sun, 19/06/2016 - 00:34

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